The young Gibson Southern High School Lady Titan basketball team had a tall task in Tuesday night’s season opener at GSHS, hosting the Castle Lady Knights.

The Lady Knights took control early and cruised over the Lady Titans for a 70-36 victory.

“We knew it was going to be really tough,” said Lady Titans head coach Mark Monroe, who led the Lady Titans to a 7-1 Pocket Athletic Conference record last season and a PAC championship. “Castle is probably going to be the best team we play this year. Their JV team as a group is older than our varsity. We knew it was going to be rough, but that’s about what they beat us last year. Castle will always be a tough opener for us. Hopefully we can take something from this and focus on the rest of the season.”

The Lady Titans struggled in the first quarter while the Lady Knights rebounded and passed efficiently to take a 26-7 lead into the second quarter where the visitors outscored the hosts 20-7 to take a 46-14 lead into halftime.

But in the second half, the Lady Titans made some adjustments, playing within four points of the Lady Knights 30-26 in the second half as the Lady Knights carried a 62-29 lead into the fourth quarter and held on for the 76-40 final.

“They ran some more people in the second half, but we played everyone on our squad in the second half, too,” Monroe said. “I think once the initial shock was over, we played a little better in the second half. The girls played with a little more courage. You can’t take anything away from Castle though. They’re an extremely good team.”

Leading the game in scoring was Castle’s Julia Pate and Jalaya Dowell with 14 points each, including 14 first half points from Pate.

For the Lady Titans, Claire Jones led the team in scoring with 10 points, seven of which came in the third quarter, while senior Skylar Boes, junior Tabby Klem and sophomore Meredith Raley all tallied seven points.

Maci Foster added five, Shayla Whitten tallied three and Ellie Maikranz scored one.

“I thought Claire played really well in the second half,” Monroe said. “Skylar handled the ball really well, she’s our leader. Meredith played really well, too. She battled for everything she got.”

Up next for the Lady Titans is a Gibson County rivalry match on Friday at home against the visiting and reigning IHSAA Class A state champions Wood Memorial at 7 p.m.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Monroe said. “Rivalry games are all stats and win-loss records, and I never count any of those in a rivalry game. We expect them to come out and play us like there is no tomorrow and I hope our girls come out and do the same thing. It should be a really good battle and we can come out on top.”

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